Art & Culture

Wherein I write a rambling tribute to Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Well, where to start when writing a tribute to this multitalented, brainy, considerate, funny, knows-where-all-the-coolest-stuff-is, amazing and strategic-thinking woman.

Hmm. Guess that list of adjectives was a tip of a tip of the iceberg, but one has to start somewhere.

I first met Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino in Singapore, at a policy summit on digital technologies and the arts. I was jetlagged like I had never been before and staying awake in the 100% humidity was mostly a feat of will. Then Alex started speaking and I sat straight up, captivated by her presentation on how she founded the design studio Tinker! in London and how she was evangelizing for open hardware all over the world. I have to meet this woman, I thought to myself. Fortunately, I did, and a few years later she’s now a partner at Really Interesting Group, working on high profile stuff for Mozilla, and working on a fascinating project about emotional robots for a major European Union funded research group. I also invited her to share her expertise on the Internet of Things and speculative design at my latest Blowup event at V2_. You can read her text, “Is this thing on? Identity, robots, and spying through everyday objects” in the free, downloadable e-Book that accompanied the event.

So yes, she’s a heavy-hitter and every time you chat with her, you’ll learn something. Chances are you’ll laugh, too. Her dry sense of humour comes out in many of her design projects, including this one, Curious Scarves, a way of advertising your relationship status and which gender you are seeking, because “it’s hard being single in the big city”:

Ada Lovelace Day or not, it’s just high time I wrote a little tribute to Alex, my friend and colleague, who is basically number one on my speed dial** when I want to know what’s what in the worlds of design, internet of things, robots, and future thinking.

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. This is my contribution for 2011.
My previous contributions were:
2010: About Eva Schindling
2009: A little story about Anab Jain

** – OK, she’s not really on my speed dial, because I hate the telephone. (I really hate the phone… don’t call me. Please.) We need some kind of new way of expressing the symbolism of speed dial, but for email and Twitter DMs and whatnot. If you think of/invent/know of a term like this, lemme know.

Art & Culture My Projects


Tomorrow I have the pleasure of launching the series I have been working on in my capacity as Curator at V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam.

The name of the series, Blowup, was inspired not only by Antonioni’s film but by the notion that blowing an image up reveals detail; blowing an inflatable object up creates form; blowing something up explosively can be festive or threatening.

The first event in the series is entitled Wild Things, and is about art for animals to appreciate, inhabit, or interact with. Three incredible speakers: Amy Youngs (US), Wilfried Hou Je Bek (NL), and Elio Caccavale (IT/UK), plus one cat: Barbie (NL), will be presenting over the course of the evening.

If you are anywhere in the Benelux region, you should rush to V2_ tomorrow night (July 7) and get there by 8 PM to enjoy the evening. For most readers, you are far enough away that I cordially invite you to tune in via webstream. V2_’s streams are really excellent, I would almost dare to say it’s even better than being there, because we use multiple cameras and the camera operators are so good. You will miss out on the custom cocktail, the “Wild Zebra”, but you can attempt to replicate this at home by making a White Russian and trying to make chocolate stripes on the side of your glass. Ya, I know — tricky. Just make White Russians and visualise the stripes. You can even participate in the online chatter by Tweeting about the programme using the hashtag #v2_!

So if you are nearby, see you there; and if not, get comfy in front of your computer, and tune in to: tomorrow, July 7, at 8PM Central European Summer Time.

Also — every Blowup event will have an e-Book reader released with it. Keep an eye out, I will amend this post with the download URL for this, the first Blowup reader!

Art & Culture

Reporting live from the Poeme Numerique Masterclass

I am delighted to be the official reporter/blogger for Baltan Laboratories’ Poeme Numerique masterclass, a week-long investigation into audio-visual content, interaction design and generative principles by a group of Netherlands-based media artists, designers and architects, led by 3 international masters: Golan Levin (US), Philippe Rahm (CH/FR) and David Rokeby (CA). The Masterclass kicked off today, and I’ll be posting my daily observations at the Baltan Laboratories website, so get it into your RSS reader! The first post is now up and available to read.

Now, some visual goodies from the three masterclass leaders:

Art & Culture My Projects Technology

This happened Edinburgh #3

On October 12, the third This happened Edinburgh event will take place at the Wee Red Bar. Our exciting line up includes: Peter Pratt, Michael Salmond, Sarah Drummond & Lauren Currie, and Paul Rodgers & Euan Winton, and Anab Jain.

Tickets are available now at this site. Be fast — last time tickets sold out in under an hour! The event is sold out! If you want to follow all the This happened Edinburgh news, become a fan on Facebook, use the #thedi hashtag on twitter, or just keep an eye on the This happened website.